County coroners struggle to find holding facilities for autopsies

Investigations and autopsies, state-wide it's all backlogged.

NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- As the state crime lab faces a backlog in autopsies, county coroners struggle to find holding facilities.

It can take several weeks to a month to get results from investigations.

And the prolonged process can be costly.

$80 per day. That’s the average price coroners pay for a holding facility.
Yearly fees run close to $100,000.

” I’ve been around for two decades. I can say we’re at the worst it’s been in my career,” said Noxubee County, Coroner R.L Calhoun.

Investigations and autopsies, state-wide it’s all backlogged.

Calhoun says as crime continues to build, most cases are taking even longer to solve.

” I have a case as far back as 2016, and I have several cases pushed back two to three years,” said Calhoun.

The state has only two medical examiners. One examiner is in Pearl and another in Biloxi.

Calhoun said he has five investigations backlogged due to high volumes.
The delay isn’t only costing families their peace of mind. It’s a running bill on storage fees to store bodies.

” It can cost a great amount. Right now, I’m under a contract with Mississippi Mortuary Services because I don’t have a holding facility here,” said Calhoun.

In Noxubee County’s contract, fees can cost $700 to $800 to pick up a body.

After storage fees and an autopsy, it’s $1,150 to $2,000.

Due to the backlog, morgues are also helping.

” If they’re going to go to a funeral home, they can hold their bodies until it’s time to get transferred for an autopsy. That helps hold down a lot of confusion,” said Calhoun.

Those who work to investigate crimes say they’ll have to wait for the process to get easier.

” I hope we can get it together down south. We’re all right now at a standstill state and county-wide. It hurts me, my sheriff’s department, my police department, and my prosecution office,” said Calhoun.

The Mississippi Coroner and Medical Examiner Association is having a meeting in the coming months.

Board members will discuss the backlog of autopsies.

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